The lion’s share of the buzz surrounding the newest Safdie Brothers film “Uncut Gems” is the undeniable lead performance by Adam Sandler as Howard “Howie” Ratner, a shady New York City jeweler who can’t seem to get out of money trouble. But another standout performance in the film comes from co-star Julia Fox, who plays Julia, the employee at his Midtown jewelry shop that he leaves his family for. The film is Fox’s first major acting role and one gaining high critical praise, making her one of the most talked-about new actresses to come along in some time. I caught up with Fox to talk about taking the spotlight and what the future will bring.
“Uncut Gems” is your first major acting role. How did you first get involved with the Safdie Brothers?
Julia Fox: I have kind of known them forever. They had already written a version of the script when they met me. I think that when Josh [Safdie] had met me it just clicked in his mind [that I would play] Sadie, that was the character’s original name. Because Adam’s daughter’s name is Sadie, they had to change it because he was uncomfortable, and they couldn’t think of any other name besides ‘Julia.’ But, I still wasn’t locked in for the role. So I was like, ‘Oh my gosh if someone else plays this role that was meant for me and now has my name, I am going to be so upset.’ It would be so embarrassing. Josh has always called me his star and he wanted to be the one to discover me. I’ve always felt his support from afar. I’ve always felt that he was always rooting for me and cheering me on in whatever I did. I love Josh.
Was acting ever something you saw yourself pursuing early in your career?
Julia Fox: No, not really, I’ve always been an artist and a creative and I have never limited myself to one medium. Whether it was fashion or photography or painting or writing. So this was just another way to express that. I had experience in film because I shot and directed a short film right before I was approved for the role. So, I was already heading in that direction. I wanted the short film to be a foot in the door and then I feel like it swung open for me.
Is helming your own feature-length films the next step in your career?
Julia Fox: I think that’s definitely my bigger picture. That’s what I’d like to do in my long term. I think right now, acting is on my forefront. I would definitely like to act more and learn more techniques and knowledge about the industry. Since I didn’t go to school for this, I didn’t study this, I can only learn by doing it and being in this environment around these people. I would like to do that but my bigger picture is definitely writing, directing and producing. I don’t want to jump the gun. I think it’s a little ambitious for me to say, ‘Okay, I’m ready to direct my first feature’ but I definitely want to put that in motion by talking about it and putting out into the universe.
The Safdie Brothers have such a knack for creating characters you root for even though they are horrible people. Your character, Julia, even though you start out having mixed feelings about her, really actually does love Adam Sandler’s character Howie in a profound way.
Julia Fox: I loved how they showed their relationship flourish and blossom. I loved how they didn’t show her, the ‘side chick’ is always portrayed in a negative light and I feel like they made her the hero in the long run … that’s what I really loved. They made her this really dignified strong and powerful woman … she always remained in control and always knew what she was doing, dominated every scene and every man. I think she’s a feminist! She kind of lets these men think they’re running the show, but she’s running the show. I love this character and I could relate to her on so many levels.
Lastly, what was it like acting alongside Adam Sandler and Kevin Garnett?
Julia Fox: A Dream! They’re like two of the most special people I have ever encountered. Even on a personal level, aside from their incredible abilities in their fields and have mastered their crafts. They’re icons! Aside from that, they’re really exceptional people. I’m so fortunate I even got to brush shoulders with them let alone make this incredible piece of art with them and be connected with them for life.